panelclaw - an Enstall Company

Technology Assessment

PanelClaw clawFR Mounting System

panelclaw - an Enstall Company

Executive Summary

DNV has been retained by PanelClaw to prepare an independent technology assessment of its flat roof solar PV mounting system, the clawFR solar substructure. DNV has studied documentation provided by PanelClaw, primarily regarding the technical aspects of the racking product, as well as the manufacturing, quality and related business systems. DNV has not visited PanelClaw’s manufacturing facilities but reviewed documentation to understand and evaluate the manufacturing approach. A list of DNV’s key list findings and observations from this review are summarized below. 

clawFR Dual Tilt
clawFR Dual Tilt

Company Evalution

PanelClaw was founded in 2007 with the goal of developing a better rooftop mounting system, one that was less costly and less labor-intensive than what was on the market at the time. Headquartered in North Andover, Massachusetts, PanelClaw has since deployed more than 2 GW of projects ranging from 5 kW to 20 MW on flat roofs across 35 countries worldwide, and installations in 47 states and Puerto Rico within the US. PanelClaw team has extensive experience with the design and development of flat-roof and fixed tilt ground-mount mounting systems.

Technology Evaluation

PanelClaw clawFR system is a fixed-tilt, rooftop racking system consisting of steel structural members, wind deflectors, and specially-designed mounting connectors and clips (claws) to support the PV modules. PanelClaw rooftop systems are ballasted, mechanically attached, or hybrid (ballasted and attached) systems designed for commercial flat roofs. The clawFR system could be arranged as a single tilt system (south facing in the northern hemisphere) with 5* (clawFR 5D) and 10*(clawFR 10D) tilt angles, or as a dual tilt system, with modules facing east and west (clawFR DT). The system has been in production since 2019 and has been installed in over 1 GW of projects. PanelClaw also offers several installations and O&M tools, and a variety of accessories. Beyond physical products, PanelClaw has also developed clawOS, a cloud-based software platform that evaluates all design loads based on the provided site criteria and then applies a comprehensive ruleset developed by PanelClaw’s Engineering team and generates a Racking Construction Set and Calculations Report for use in permitting and system construction.

DNV has conducted a review of the relevant structural documentation, wind tunnel reports, component and system strength testing, and component and project layout drawings. PanelClaw’s understanding and investment in the wind tunnel testing program are industry-leading. PanelClaw’s standard structural calculations package is sufficient for most Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). DNV also reviewed seismic and snow load analysis and confirmed the use of appropriate load combinations. PanelClaw’s structural testing program is extensive and DNV looks very favorably on the rigor, quality and documentation of performed tests.

Manufacturing, Quality and Installation 

PanelClaw’s approach to supplier qualification, manufacturing and packaging, quality control and project engineering and installation support meets industry standards. PanelClaw is in the process of being certified to ISO9001:2015 Quality Management System, and most of their supplier base is either ISO certified, or they are following ISO practices and have documented processes. 

Reliability and Regulatory 

PanelClaw’s clawFR product has been installed in the field since 2019 and has and impressive reliability record with less than 10 warranty claims over 1,600 projects. PanelClaw completed testing for certification to UL 2703 which includes the UL 2703 grounding and bonding tests that are conducted on specific PV module models, mechanical load tests, and fire performance. PanelClaw’s structural drawings and calculations demonstrate general compliance with the structural regulatory requirements appropriate to many parts of the United States (IBC and ASCE). PanelClaw states that they have a 100% track record of permit approval. 

Operations and Maintenance

DNV reviewed the O&M manual and processes and considers PanelClaw’s general approach to be in-line with competing racking products, and nots that the O&M manual is comprehensive and well organized. DNV views design features included for O&M as indurty-leading. PanelClaw’s warranty to be standard and the term length of 25 years is one of the more favorable in the industry. 

Concluding Remarks 

In its role as an independent engineer, DNV has studied documentation provided by PanelClaw regarding the technical aspects of the clawFR mounting system, along with manufacturing and business systems. Based on available information, testing and engineering that is indicated to have gone into the PanelClaw clawFR rooftop mounting products, DNV considers PanelClaw to be an established supplier of rooftop racking systems that is capable of supplying products that do not pose atypical risks. 

About DNV 

DNV is the independent expert in assurance and risk management. Driven by the purpose, to safeguard life, property and the environment, DNV empowers their customers and their stakeholders with facts and reliable insights so that critical decisions can be made with confidence. As a trusted voice for many of the world’s most succesfull organizations, DNV uses their knowledge to advance safety and performance , set industry benchmarks, and inspire and invent solutions to tackle global transformations. 

About PanelClaw

Headquartered in North Andover, MA, PanelClaw was founded November 6th, 2007 with the goal of accelerating the adoption of flat roof solar by developing rooftop mounting systems that are less costly and less labor-intensive while at the same time maintain industry best reliability performance. Since its founding, PanelClaw has become the largest flat roof racking provider in North America with more than 2 GW of projects ranging from 5 kW to 20 MW deployed with its products on flat roofs across 35 countries, 47 US states and the Caribbean. In 2020, PanelClaw was acquired by the ESDEC Solar Group and remains in growth mode with its focused flat roof strategy.

panelclaw - an Enstall Company